New Zealand: 145 pilot whales dead in latest stranding

New Zealand: 145 pilot whales dead in latest stranding”

Three wildlife experts that were flown in by helicopter found one dead humback whale and 23 dead pilot whales.

At the weekend, around 145 whales were discovered stranded on a remote beach on Stewart Island, south of New Zealand's South Island.

Long-finned pilot whales are the most common pilot whale species in the waters around New Zealand, according to the DOC.

Authorities have chose to kill the remaining whales because they are in unreachable areas of the island.

The humpback whale is thought to have died well before the rest in a separate incident.

"Sadly, the likelihood of being able to successfully re-float the remaining pilot whales was extremely low", explained Ren Leppens of the regional Department of Conservation (DOC).

The whale carcasses are unlikely to be removed by authorities and could be left on the beach to be dragged out by the tide.

Short-finned (Globicephala macrorhynchus) and long-finned pilot whales look nearly identical when seen in the wild, but the two species differ in fin length, tooth count and skull shape.

The condition of the two pilot whale carcasses suggested they had been dead for a while before being found, Orbost Incident Control Centre's Stephen Young said.

Conservationists drove eight of the rare and enigmatic whales across New Zealand to give them a better chance of surviving after they became stranded on the remote, windswept shoreline. She said they rushed into the water.

"It was useless - they were so big and heavy and the realisation we could do nothing to save them was the worst feeling I've ever experienced".

"It is a remote area, not really accessible by foot unless you walk the beach", Mr Turner said. Scientists believe strandings can be caused by a number of factors, such as the whales trying to escape predators, falling ill, or navigating incorrectly.

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